Noah Alexander entered the world a week earlier than he was due, on July 1, 2012 at approximately 3:25 in the morning. It was probably all the stresses of the move; but I choose to believe it was because he couldn't wait to meet us. :) A semi-shortened version of my birth story is below, as told by yours truly.
6/29 - I started feeling early labor contractions 2 nights before I gave birth. At the time, I wasn't sure they just felt like really bad cramps. I was getting them very sporadically and spaced out. A call to my OB confirmed that I was most likely in early labor, and I was advised to walk as much as possible to naturally "induce" labor. I did not sleep much that night; it felt like I would fall asleep and the cramping would wake me up a few minutes later. I probably got a total of 4 hours sleep that night and that's probably overestimating. Thankfully, I took off from work not knowing I would be going into labor that same weekend.
6/30 - Contractions were getting closer, but still inconsistent. I was more uncomfortable at this point than in pain. I didn't really have an appetite all day so I barely ate, was passing my mucus plug little by little and I knew labor was imminent. Since we had just moved in to our new apartment that same week, hubby and I had plans to do a lot of running around to get some stuff for our new place. Since I was told to walk as much as possible, we went ahead with our plans. We packed our hospital bag in the car and headed off to IKEA. The whole time we were in there, I kept thinking how funny it would be if I went into labor in IKEA. Umm, not really! Now in retrospect, I realize this was probably hysteria starting to set in. :)
After our day-long expedition, we got home just in time because I started experiencing really strong (read : painful) labor contractions at about 8pm that evening. I knew at that point they were the real McCoy. But again, they were coming very inconsistent. Once I was told to head to the hospital, the only thing I kept thinking was: 'I hope they don't send me home!' I could not imagine dealing with that pain at home. On the way to the hospital, in the car, I started getting regular contractions clocking in at every 3 minutes lasting for at least a minute. At that point, I was praying and hoping that I wouldn't pop the baby out in the car! They were coming that fast (in my mind) and that strong. We got to the hospital at about 9 pm and they proceeded to hook me up to the monitors to keep track of mine & the baby's heartbeats. They check me and I'm 5cm dilated. The doc immediately asked me if I want some pain meds. Umm hello yes! I didn't even let her get the question out! Ha! Once I got the epidural, I seriously felt like I was in heaven. My husband likes to tell people now that my demeanor changed from night to day. I was smiling, laughing and just....totally relaxed. I progressed to 8cm pretty quickly; even my OB was surprised. She proceeded to tell me at this point that my baby was sunny side up. Meaning he was turned around in a posterior position facing my back (read : back labor!!!!). Sunny side up is not the optimal position to give birth in. At this precise moment, I started feeling the back labor pains. OUCH! I was turned on my right side and my leg was propped up on a side table to see if he would turn on his own. Not only was the position uncomfortable to hold, but I swore the epidural started wearing off and I started feeling some contractions (again, maybe only in my mind).
7/1 - It was already past midnight when I was still only dilated to 8cm. After about an hour with him not budging, I started pushing to turn him in the right position. I was exhausted from pushing to turn him, and I hadn't even started pushing to get him out! Pushing for an hour and a half, he finally turned and then I started feeling the intense pressure in my pelvis as he started making his way down the birth canal. I was fully dilated! Another hour & a few more contractions Noah was here at 3:25 in the morning! He weighed in at 6 lbs, 8 ozs and measured 19 inches long. He was born with the cord wrapped around his neck and of course I immediately freaked out. Larry reassured me the baby was ok and I was happy he was there because I was held to the bed and could only turn my neck so much to look. They sucked the fluid out of Noah's nose and got him breathing regularly and then put him on my chest for skin to skin bonding. I got to breastfeed him right away and it was just an overall amazing experience. I was in labor for a total of 6 hours. I was told by my nurses and doctors that I had what they consider a fairly short labor considering some first time moms go through upwards of 12 + hours of labor. Yikes! I was able to walk around the next day with not much pain at all. I must say, my husband was my rock through the whole thing. He told me afterward that he was anxious when he saw me in pain, but didn't want to show it because he wanted to be strong for me. This man held my feet when I just couldn't anymore, gave me energy where I lacked, said the most encouraging words, pushed me to the finish line when I wanted to give up from sheer exhaustion, fed me water, and was just plain amazing throughout everything. I cannot imagine going through it all again without him.
Unfortunately, we did not get many good photos of me before or after the birth or of the two of us with the baby. :( I'm pretty disappointed about that. The one below is the only one that came out halfway decent. I think he and I were both just plain exhausted from the whole ordeal and mixed with lack of sleep we were not thinking clearly. I was also starving right after the birth because I hadn't really eaten anything all day so I kept hoping they would rush us up to our room so I could scarf down a fat cheeseburger. Ok, not really but you get the picture. :) I already know next time around what I will be doing differently. ;)